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freight traijust going off, just boom. >> and now we'll continue the breaking coverage in washington. wolf blitzer in "the situation room." wolf? >> thanks very much, brooke. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world for the breaking news coverage of this, the earthquake catastrophe in japan. i'm wolf blitzer. john vos is joining us over in the cnn center in atlanta. a lot of news to cover. let me give our viewers the highlights of what's going on right now. it's now just after 7:00 a.m. saturday in japan. survivors of the strongest earthquake recorded in that country's history are seeing the enormous destruction in the harsh light of day, and they are still being shaken to the core.
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two powerful new tremors measuring higher than a magnitude of 6 struck within the last hour alone, after the 8.9 monster quake hit japan friday afternoon unleashing a huge tsunami. japanese media reporting that the death toll could be higher than 1,000. hundreds of people may be missing. some may be trapped alive or buried in homes that were simply washed away. the tsunami sent water rushing sever six miles inland. one area of deep concern right now. japanese authorities are trying to cool down the temperature inside a nuclear power plant rattled by the quake. president obama says the united states is helping to monitor the plant for possible radiation leaks. he also sent his condolences to the victims of this disaster. >> today's events remind us of just how fragile life can be. our hearts go out to our friends in japan and across the region, and we're going to stand with
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them as they recover and rebuild from this tragedy. >> the president obviously deeply concerned. he's also promising the united states will do whatever it can to help the japanese people. right now, john, he says military equipment, lift equipment, whatever the united states can do, it will help. help is on the way, and he says he's deeply moved by what has happened. as you know, john, he grew up in hawaii where there's a rich japanese culture. he's very familiar with japan. was just there, and he like so many other people all over the world, millions of people, are very concerned because this tragedy, john, could only get worse and worse as it's now daylight and we begin to see the destruction. >> yeah, absolutely. we know that there is military reconnaissance under way trying to assess how much damage has been caused by this earthquake. the best way to understand the raw power and fear generated by the quake is to see the video and experience it for yourself. this i-reporter from harrison
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payton, an english language teacher, and he's living in japan. truly incredible video. did you see the shingles, look at that, shingles just being shaken from the roof of that house. harrison payton tells us understandably he was still shaking long after the tremor stopped, and he put down his camera, wolf. >> it's only just the beginning because aftershock after aftershock after aftershock, john, and we're just now getting some of the early daylight
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pictures thanks to our affiliate nhk in japan. i want to show our viewers some of these pictures. this shows the devastation, the destruction. john, look at that water surrounding all of those buildings there from the tsunami, the waves just came in and in and in. this is certainly the worst quake in japan's history, but the tsunami, we're only now as sun is beginning to go up over all of japan, just after 7:00 a.m. saturday morning, we're only now, john, beginning to seat enormity. >> it's very difficult to know looking at that footage, looking at those aerial images of where the coast begins and where it stops. where the sea is and where it is in land, and, of course, one of the things about an earthquake is that you can prepare for that. you can change the construction standards, but it is very difficult, as they are now finding out in japan, to prepare for a tsunami this powerful, wolf. >> you know, i want to keep these pictures up for our viewers because these are the first live pictures coming to us
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from japan, showing the devastation, and we want to thank our affiliate nhk world for these pictures. i would like you to look at these pictures as we bring in now ashley burns, an american living in tokyo. she felt the earthquake. ashley is joining us via skype. ashley, tell us what you saw, what you felt and what you heard. >> hi, wolf, yeah, thank you. i was -- i'm a junior high schoolteacher so i was at school when the earthquake hit, and one of the most surprising things about it for me is how long it was. and i know everyone keeps saying that, an, you know, being from the bay area, being from california, i know we all know earthquakes, but this one was pretty long. it really freaked us all out. most of the teachers i was with, we all ran out to the baseball field at the school that i work at, and we just waited it out there, you know. some of the kids are still at
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school, and -- and screaming and it was -- it was pretty chaotic. >> you were in tokyo which is relatively far away, but you can clearly feel the enormous impact. 8.9, just to give it some perspective. the earthquake in haiti was a 7.0. 8.9, worst earthquake in japan's history. they have created this hipad. nhk is showing us these life pictures. this is where helicopters and lift equipment will be coming in. i'm assuming there's a lot of injured people that will have to be rescued in these areas right now. john, i want you to come into this conversation as well. ashley burns is standing by. she's a teacher in tokyo. john, we've covered a lot of earthquakes and stories like this, but this one is -- i think it's going to be enormous. >> yeah, well, i mean, the problem that we're having now for japan is obviously they have
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prepared for this, but it was the sheer power of an earthquake which measures 8 or has a magnitude of 8.9, and it's seemed that they are ready for an earthquake up to maybe 7 or 8, but when you get to this power and this size of a tsunami, which is simply swept all before it, we do know that the japanese are very prepared. we do know that there was a wake-up call for this country in 1995 when the kobe earthquake struck and more than 5,000 people were killed because -- because of that, and we do know that every year that they go through these evacuation drills and that they are prepared. this country would be probably the best prepared country in the world to deal with an earthquake and a tsunami like this, but when you look at these images, these first daylight pictures of all of that water and debris and mud inland, it seems that even in a country like japan which is a wealthy country will certainly be struggling to recover from this. an interesting point, wolf, when
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we talk about the kobe earthquake which happened back in 1995, the repair bill for that, the damage, the economic losses back then, and it was a much smaller earthquake, it was estimated around 13 trillion yen which is about $140 billion u.s., and so the question now has to be asked, especially as we look at the damage here at first light of these live pictures from our affiliate nhk, we have to start asking not only the economic losses but, okay, more seriously, what will be the human toll in all of this. the death toll now standing at 188 people, but, of course, that will surely rise as the search crews begin to fan out amongst all the devastation and destruction and try and find those people who survived this, wolf. >> stand by for a moment because kyung lah, our correspondent in tokyo, is now joining us. i know you've had an unbelievably difficult day today, but where are you now and exactly what's going on? >> reporter: i'm about 150 miles
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south of the region that's been hardest hit, that sendai region where we've seen that tsunami come across and devastate all those agricultural plains, the airport, the town. what we're heading to and trying to understand now that it's daylight is how extensive is this -- is this. what kind of a scope are we talking about? all throughout the evening everyone has been saying we're expecting this. here are the missing numbers, but it's now. when the daylight has broken here in japan that we're really going to understand exactly what we're dealing with. rescue crews are trying to get there as quickly as possible. we heard the prime minister say that he's heading up here in a helicopter. the reason why. most of the runways are out. roadways are devastated. highways are gone. they are also not allowing traffic on the highways because there's been so many aftershocks. the fear is in fact the highways
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could collapse. we're on a country road trying to move as quickly as we can to that region, but it's proving to be very difficult. in the city of tokyo, there's absolute gridlock because the rail system is down and without the rail system and without the highway system, the city roads simply did not handle the amount of traffic that's going tone sue with commuters trying to get in and out of city, so it's been a very, very long night, both for the people trying to get in and out of tokyo but also certainly for the people hardest hit in this quake and tsunami. wolf. >> i just want to back up a bit to your experience. you were caught on the subway when this earthquake actually happened so describe for us what that was like, but i also understand it was fairly calm as well at the time. there wasn't a great deal of panic despite this earthquake which happened as what, about 2:46 in the afternoon local t e time.
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>> i think we may have lost kyung. can you hear me. this is wolf here in washington. i think, john, we lost her >> i think we've lost her. >> she's had a very difficult day. she's been on the road for hours now as she left tokyo hours ago, guessing seven, eight hours ago. she's been struggling with horrendous traffic on all the major highways heading north towards the epicenter, towards this area. we're looking at live pictures security sieve our affiliate nhk and you can see the waves just ripping apart this area. i don't know if you're back with us yet. are you back there yet? can you hear me? >> reporter: cells are really spotty. >> well, if you can hear me, kyun. walk us through and what it's been like trying to drive from tokyo up north to this area, this devastation. >> she's got a bad cell so we're
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going to let her continue to move, john, as we try to get a better cell. >> these pictures are truly incredible, wolf, when we look at all of this water inland, and this is a situation very similar to what what i'm told happened here in the united states during hurricane katrina. all of this water came in. it crossed over the coast, and then that's where it stayed, and the problem that you're going to have now, that we're being told by experts who know a lot more about this stuff than i do. what they are saying is with all of this water now inland, there's going to be a very difficult time trying to -- trying to get it out, trying to get it back out to sea, and in that water there's built-up disease and debris and the beginnings of a health crisis amongst all of this debris. you have no idea what is actually inside all of this water. there's no electricity there. there's no clean drinking water for the people who now live in this part of japan, so this is the disaster -- the disaster may be over with the earthquake and the tsunami, but the catastrophe
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is only just beginning. >> people are going to be struggling for a long, long time and as i sense, based on everything i've been hearing all day. once we get the evidence of the enormity of what's going on, it's going to be heartbreaking indeed around the world, especially for the people around the world. japan has also in the meantime declared a nuclear emergency. we're taking a closer look at deep concerns right now that the quake-damaged nuclear power plants in japan might repeat, might start leaking radiation and hundreds of people are missing in the shaken and flooding areas of japan. we're going to hear from one japanese-american desperately trying to reach her 86-year-old mother to find out if she's okay. much more of the breaking news coverage out of japan right after this.
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first the earthquake and then the tsunami. this is the tsunami, the disaster that occurred 12, 14 hours ago as this water just came in, and the devastation that it caused. it went on and on and on.
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john voss is watching this with us as well. these are pictures, no matter how many times you've seen the pictures, you can't believe the power of the tsunami. >> absolutely, and the real danger is the water and when you look at what's happening. look at the water, all the debris, the houses, the cars. everything was just being swept away. if you get caught in that, emergency crews an rescuers say there is really very, very little hope for survival, and we saw that in places like banda aceh during the 2004 tsunami there, but obviously this is the end result of a 23-foot tsunami. >> yeah. >> completely and totally devastating. >> i mean, some of that -- some of that tsunami went at least six miles or ten kilometers inland, destroying houses, buildings, homes, everything in its path as it was going on. can you just see that destruction continuing. i want to show our viewers now
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some live pictures. that was 12, 14 hours ago. these are live pictures security sieve our affiliate nhk in japan, and can you see the smoke still coming up. the fires, one of the by-products of this disaster from this earthquake, and the multipag, multiple aftershocks that occurred, an 8.9 magnitude earthquake. some of these aftershocks, john, have been in the range of 6.5, and under normal circumstances that would be a horrendous earthquake to begin with but the aftershocks, makes the situation much more worse. >> there was an aftershock measuring up to 7.0 and normally that would be considered a major quake in and of itself. seismologists will tell that you there will be a number, a lot of these aftershocks in the days and weeks to come so there's more misery in store for all of the victims, and there will be a lot of victims. a lot of people have been impacted by this earthquake and by this tsunami and, of course,
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there is a lot of rescue work to be done, a lot of rebuilding. simply just trying to get the water out of this area. what we're being told by the live pictures is they are actually on the pacific side of the island of japan, and the camera crew has actually been zooming in and out looking at the tops of these buildings, trying to find anybody who may have made -- made it up to the roof of their home or their building and needs to be rescued, because right now the sun has come up, and there is light. we know that these rescue operations will get under way in full swing. over the past 12 hours or so, the japanese military, the air force have been flying reconnaissance missions to try to map out the disaster zone to try to get out as much information as they can. phone lines badly damaged and the cell phone system is down so they have to go up there and see it for themselves. that's what they are doing. now that it's first light they will have a much better assessment in the coming hours
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of where the resources need to be placed to try and save as many people as possible. wolf. >> i want to bring in kyung lah. we've re-established cell phone service with her. you started off the day in tokyo. eventually you got into a car and started driving north towards this area of the devastation from the tsunami. about how many miles or kilometers have you managed to get over the past let's say eight hours that you've been in this car? >> the past eight, well, i've been in the car i want to say almost nine hours, and we've gone, let's see, about 100 kilometers or so. >> which is about 60 miles. >> reporter: and we're still -- yeah. we're still at least 140 miles away from the hard-hit area, and i have to tell you, wolf, we just drove through the small town of sapporo city, and we noticed there's no power in this
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town, 140 miles away from the hardest hit area, and we're already starting to see the effects. we have not seen any damage yet, but as we get closer and closer, we're anticipating that we're going to start seeing some. there isn't that much traffic heeding up to this region anymore, and as we've experienced, communications is extraordinarily difficult out of this area as well, so, you know, we're certainly at least from our viewpoint, we're going to start to understand the challenges that some of the rescuers are going to be facing as they reach this area. >> i know you're driving towards the disaster area, kyung. is there a lot of traffic in the other direction, people trying to escape from that area? >> reporter: there are a lot of trucks heading down through the region, but i can't quit tell if this is ordinary traffic or people just trying to escape. it's very, very difficult to tell. no one is speeding. it does not appear to be, you know, floods of people screaming out of the region, so everything does appear to be orderly as of
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yet, and what -- what we want to make clear that we're on back roads. we're not on the main highway so, you know, from what we can tell, it appears to be relatively calm. >> and tell our viewers, if they don't know, why you're on the back roads as opposed to the main highway. these are, by the way, showing pictures from our other affiliate in japan, flames still continuing as a result of this earthquake. this is a devastation we haven't seen in a long time but go ahead, kyung. >> the reason why we're on the back roads is because the highways are shut down for primary traffic. the reason why the highways are shut down is in japans many parts of a highway are elevated. that's for a number of reason, the primary being you can travel much faster on that highway here in japan, but they don't want a lot of commuters or a lot of traffic or certainly any truck traffic on elevated roads, especially when you consider the number of aftershocks we feel.
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we actually just experienced an aftershock where we were traveling relatively slowly in our car, and our car has a sensor, and it warned us that we were experiencing an earthquake, so these aftershocks are still coming. they are coming one after the other, and while they are not, you know, very alarming where we feel something significant while we're moving in a car, certainly as we're getting a little bit closer, you know, you do feel the aftershocks a bit more forcefully. >> kyung, stand by. we'll be touching base with you and checking in with you frequently because we know you're heading into that disaster area. be careful on this drive. john, i can only tell you and what our viewers can only see now that it's daylight in japan, this destruction, this devastation, it will become more and more apparent with each hour. >> yeah, absolutely. footage continues to come in the devastating power of this massive earthquake in japan. we'll show you more that have
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dramatic video and you'll see and hear those terrifying moments all caught on tape and we'll zhou show you the shocking report as the sun rises over japan. you're in "the situation room." [ crickets chirping ] [ thunder rumbles ] [ male announcer ] the future of mobile computing starts now. the new motorola xoom. powered by the latest android technology,
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live pictures. look at this devastation and destruction. cars obviously from the tsunami, from the earthquake, destroyed. you can see the fires security sieve our affiliate pictures coming in right now. still going on 12, 14 hours after this earthquake struck an 8.9 magnitude earthquake. these are nhk pictures coming in as well. wow, these pictures are -- this devastation is still going on. john voss is here in "the situation room" with us. we're watching this, and as the sunlight is up now, clearly over all of japan, it's early saturday morning there. we can begin to appreciate the enormity of this tragedy. >> yeah, wolf, this is the first chance we've had to see how bad, how much damage has been caused by this tsunami. take a look at this. these are cars which have been swept together because of the power of this tsunami, and some earlier footage that we've seen from our affiliate there at nhk
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there was fire going from one vehicle to another. this appears to be a fire at what looks like an oil refinery. there are some papertic tours from the evening. it must have been a terrifying night for everybody in japan with so many aftershocks being recorded over the past 12 or 16 hours or so. japanese emergency crews have been working throughout the night and the morning. the rescue operation will go many days, many weeks. the united states is promising to help. let's bring in our pentagon correspondent barbara starr. what's the u.s. military doing? >> reporter: well, the u.s. military is trying to weigh in and help where it can very rapidly. what they are trying to do right now is get some assessment information from the japanese to see where the priorities are, the devastation is so wide spread and so terrible, that, you know, somebody has to prioritize and decide where to begin on all of this, where to start looking for survivors who
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may be trapped. so as that assessment takes place as we see daylight unfold, dozens of u.s. navy assets may get involved. i want to just show you the map that we have plotted out. these dots will show you where about eight navy warships already across the pacific are getting under way and setting sail for japan. just off japan's east coast, the lead is the aircraft carrier "ronald reagan." it has a number of helicopters on board that will be able to help. other ships coming from malaysia and singapore, u.s. navy ships all over the place. what you are going to start seeing as things get prioritized is some of those heavy lift helicopters begin to conduct operations offshore japan. they can go in, work with japanese self-defense forces, carry in water, food, tents, medical supplies, help carry out survivors, those who need
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critical medical care. it will be very important to get people help as rapidly as they can. what you are now seeing is the uss "blue ridge" earlier today in singapore, the first humanitarian relief supplies loading up on this u.s. ny warship in singapore. it is setting sail for japan as well. expect to see the u.s. navy get involved, the u.s. military, john, but, of course, other nations around the world weighing in. government organizations, relief organizations, everybody getting involved as rapidly as they can. john? >> barbara, there's 38,000 u.s. military personnel stationed in japan. all of them are accounted for, 45,000 dependants as well, but i understand there is a formality here before u.s. military personnel who are currently stationed in japan can actually come to the assistance of the japanese government. walk us through that. >> reporter: right, i mean, look, we've seen this sadly in so many disasters around the
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world, in the 2004 tsunami, in the pakistan earthquake, in chile, in haiti. the u.s. military, you know, to overstate the obvious, doesn't just go into a country and start operating. they work out the details with the host government that needs the help. they get permission. they work out all the rules of the road, the engagement, the acce access, and really to a large extent once they get this worked out with the japanese government, it again comes back to that issue of priorities. they want to know what are the prioriti priorities. where the japanese government is flying the reconnaissance flights, the u.s. is already helping with that. they are trying to map out from above, from the air, where the top priorities are. you know, the urge is to just send everything in at once. that doesn't do anybody very much good. they have to set priorities and look where they can do the most good, as rapidly as possible and get the survivors out, get medical care in and try to help
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as many people as they can. john. >> barbara, thank you. barbara starr hive for us at the pentagon. let's go back to wolf. >> you know, the pictures, as we look at the pictures, especially the live pictures coming from tbsi and nhk in japan, and you see the devastation, hard to believe that mother nature could cause this kind of destruction. an 8.9 magnitude earthquake followed by an enormous tsunami. this is something that's going to be hard for a lot of us to comprehend in the coming days as we watch this unfolding, not only the flood and the destruction but the fires that are still continuing as well. >> and, of course, we're looking at the area which has been flooded by the tsunami which is one of the coastal areas in the north of the country which has been particularly hard hit, but this earthquake was felt up and down the country, and what was interesting is the situation in tokyo, the capital, is that buildings there continue to sway for 30 minutes after this earthquake struck just as an
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indication of how powerful it was. and the other point, too, to make, is that it did not cause panic or chaos because the people of japan are very much used to this, at least in the city of tokyo. we don't know what the situation would have been like in the north of the country. what you see there, vehicles piled up there, like in a used car lot, just simply tossed around and then left in this water-logged field and, of course, getting rid of that water is going to be the next problem and here's another problem, those oil refineries which continue to burn now, and, of course, there continues to be that problem with the nuclear power plant, wolf. >> just multiply, multiply all of this by a lot, and you know the devastation. these are just little areas that we're seeing. certainly, john, a lot of concern about whether a nuclear plant in japan has a radioactive leak or not. we're keeping a close watch on the situation, the danger, if there is in fact a leak, and also the path of destruction. we'll map out where the quake hit and how it unleashed that
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enormous tsunami. much more of our special breaking news coverage here in "the situation room" right after this.
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around the world and in the united states, welcome back to our continuing coverage of the earthquake and tsunami in japan. right now we are looking at live pictures from our affiliate. it is now 7:36 a.m. in japan. this is first light, the first scene after this devastating 8.9 quake, and we are seeing people on roof tops who are waving for help and amongst all of that water as the camera zooms in maybe we can see what's happening down there on the ground. they look to be stanned because of the water. obviously there are many, many people here who will need to be rescued in the coming hour because so many area have v been uninundated by this tsunami, a 23-foot tsunami which has just dumped water inland and in some places as far as eye can see
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you. >> can see these people waving as helicopters are flying by. the helicopter flying by with its own camera on board and you can see folks on that rooftop on top of that roof over there. they want help. they need help right now. it's been 12 or 1 hours, i'm guessing, since that earthquake and tsunami struck this part of japan, and these people are desperate. sort of reminds me, john, of hurricane katrina when people were out on roof tops simply trying to get a white flag out there to say help, help, help. these are desperate people that we're waving right now. >> of course, in a situation like this it is now -- it's coming up to 17 hours since that earthquake struck, and for these people in this part of japan right now, there would be no running water or electricity. as you say, wolf, they are desperate for help, and this will be the focus of this operation, the rescue operations
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which will be under way we imagine momentarily which is why the u.s. has sent the aircraft "ronald reagan" into the area. we can see that man spelling out the word help on the top of that building and others trying to catch the attention of the helicopter. of course, this is a desperate situation for so many people and we're only now just finding out how bad it is for so many people up and down the coast of japan. >> yeah. i suspect they are also writing the word help in japanese as well. i don't read japanese, but it looks like the japanese characters are there. these people are on top of this building, and it looks like they are desperate, desperate, desperate, and i assume that if this helicopter continues to fly over this area, we'll see a lot of people on top of these buildings. people who survived the earthquake and survived the
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tsunami are begging for help, get me out of here. >> we spoke with general honore who led the rescue and recovery in hurricane katrina, he said the main effort is to get assets in place, helicopters and rescuers there to reach these people. it doesn't have to be pretty or organized in any major way. it just has to start happening and that is what i imagine we'll start seeing in the hours ahead now that there is daylight over this area which has been so badly impacted by this earthquake and this tsunami, and as we say, that is why the u.s. is sending the aircraft carrier "ronald reagan" because it does have a number of helicopters on board which can do heavy lifting and can be involved in the rescue of people like this. and that's something that the japanese military doesn't have substantial capability as well. they, too, have been involved in reconnaissance to assess the full scope of this situation. wolf. >> you can see if the aircraft camera pans out a little bit, can you see all the water surrounding this building,
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especially on the right side of the screen. meantime, folks are waving white flags, anything they can to get the attention of some of these helicopters flying overhead. once you go wide here, you'll see the water surrounding this building, and it's obviously a major area. these people can't leave the roof and go down. there's water all around. the tsunami came in and literally engulfed this entire area. >> simply nowhere for these people to go, and on the closer shot what we can see is a number of vehicles, cars and trucks, which appear to have slammed into the side of that building there. just to give you an idea of how powerful this tsunami is. you have to wonder how much building that damage has sustained, and how it's still standing right now given everything that it's gone through but obviously right now a number of people on the roof of that building desperate for help, wolf. >> 7:41 a.m. local time saturday morning in japan right now, so at least they got daylight out
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there. can you imagine how scared these people must have been. all of the power was lost followed by the earthquake and tsunami. at least they are now out and about and on the roof. they can't go down but i'm sure there's similar scenes going on all over this area. one thing about our coverage, john, of this tsunami and this earthquake, japan a very technological and sophisticated. we'll see images over the coming hours that we probably wouldn't have seen in many other countries because of the very nature of the sophisticated television ability from the tv stations in japan. we'll get access to images that i suspect many of us won't want to see but it's our job to bring these pictures to the viewers. >> absolutely. another fact that this has been
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so widely covered, be it on cell phone video or tv crews, this is providing valuable information for oceanographers and for scientists in actually understanding how tsunamis happen and their impact. now, many of these images have been very disturbing when we've seen the destruction and the damage and the devastation which is being caused, but this is really the first time, we're told, that a tsunami like this has been caught on video and recorded. providing valuable information. not much help for these people right now but it will help in future situations and in efforts trying to make future provisions to withstand future snamy. >> take a look at this. pretty shocking stuff. a lot more to watch. this breaking news is continuing. there's a new tsunami alert, 17 hours after the initial tsunami. we'll tell you where that is, a tsunami warning, i should say. and also nuclear fears as a rust nuclear power plants in japan, radiation leaks. how serious are they?
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jeanne meserve is working that story. we'll continue the breaking news story right after this. [ male announcer ] there's just something about werther's caramel that makes a chocolate so smooth and creamy, you don't just taste it, you feel it. ♪ do you believe in magic? ♪ ♪ it's magic ♪ [ male announcer ] it's a comfort that comes from the only caramel worthy of being wrapped in gold. ♪ do you believe in magic? [ male announcer ] werther's original caramel chocolate. what comfort tastes like.
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and welcome back to our coverage of the earthquake in japan. this was the moment the earthquake struck. this supermarket in the capital tokyo. you can see the power of this
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magnitude 8.9 tremor as the shelves in this supermarket are rattled. produce and cans fall to the floor and the staff inside this supermarket head for cover as this quake rattles not just this supermarket, not just tokyo, but all of japan. after that earthquake then came the devastating tsunami which we have seen the end result of as the sun rises over japan. but that was the moment of the earthquake as it struck in tokyo, wolf. >> that was just in tokyo where the real epicenter was not that close to tokyo. you can only imagine what was going on, john, further to the north where the earth heard that 8.9 magnitude earthquake really hit. kyung lah is now on the road towards that devastation. tell us where you are and what's behind you. >> reporter: the reason why we stopped, wolf, is that we're starting to see the effects of the earthquake and the tsunami,
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and they are minor here, but we just wanted to stop to show you something because anyone who is familiar with japan will know exactly what this tells you. what you're seeing over my shoulder here, that is the famous japanese bullet train. the bull train is simply not moving. they are stopped. there are two train lines that we can see here stopped, one behind the other. we don't know if there are passengers aboard there. from what the rail hines have said they have tried to evacuate people as quickly as they can trying to get people out of the rail lines. kyodo news is reporting north of where we are, there are four train lines that are currently missing, four trains that at this point are unaccounted for, so these two we can tell you, they are here, but these shinkansen, the japanese bullet trains, they are on average only delayed 30 seconds. we just met with -- >> looks like that signal --
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>> reporter: so to see them halted like this, this tells us that there is a national emergency going on here. >> when you see that bullet train just stopped there, and a lot of us have seen video of those bullet trains in japan simply zooming along, that train has no place to go, why? because the tracks have been destroyed, is that what i'm sensing, kyung? >> reporter: you know, just because i've actually met with the rail line people this past week, we know exactly how the earthquake system works. all along the lines there are earthquake sensors. if there is an earthquake and the rail line becomes slightly askew, they stop the train lines. if they feel that the rail lines are going to be compromised in any manner, stop. they are highly magnetized. these trains run at an extraordinarily high rate of speed. there has never been, according
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to the rail people, any sort of collision involving the japanese bullet trains. there have been accidents with some of the local rail lines but not with the bullet trains, and so to see these magnificent vessels really for this country stop on the rail lines, this really does tell stop on the rail lines, it really tells you there's something very serious going on in the country. we're still about 130 miles southwest of where the tsunami struck the coastline. as we head north, we're expecting to see much more devastation towards the area. we wanted to stop and give you a look at that. >> and kyung, it's john here at the cnn center in atlanta. one point about the bullet trains and rail network, this is a country that relies on the rail network. 10 million people a day take the train. how will this impact the country in the days and weeks ahead? >> well, this is a country that
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can't move. certain lines have begun opening to the west of tokyo. without the rail lines for the country of japan, it is simply paralyzed. it is much faster to get anywhere on the rail lines versus a car. if you don't have the high speed rail system, it takes a long time to get around. taking to the air, they're going to have to go to helicopters because the runways are compromised. there are a number of logistical challenges facing them. >> kyung, thank you very much. we'll let you continue your way to the epicenter of the earthquake to show us where most of the devastation is. >> on top of everything else, john, there's deep concern right now that some of these nuclear power plants in japan may have been compromised, radiation
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could be leaking. we're going to check this out. we'll take another quick break. [ wind howling ] [ technician ] are you busy? management just sent over these new technical manuals. they need you to translate them into portuguese. by tomorrow. [ male announcer ] ducati knows it's better for xerox
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everything before it, taking out houses and cars, picking up vehicles and tossing them around. incredible video as the 23-foot tsunami made its way six miles inland. it's difficult to know where the coast ends and where the land begins. another amazing scene, as this continues to cause huge problems throughout japan. this is really shocking, this video that we're seeing from the devastation from the tsunami. this was land. it's now all water. when you think of the waves coming in, let's say at ten feet or whatever, and the waves coming in at this powerful rate, not just the waves, but for
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long, long distances and the water that just thrusted onto the land, destroying everything in its wake. it's really heartbreaking to see this. among other things, the news agency is reporting that some radio activity may be leaking. there are concerns that this reactor may be losing its ability to adequately cool its core. our homeland security correspondent jeanne meserve is monitoring the situation for us. jeanne, japan's prime minister said earlier in the day there was no evidence of radioactive leaks. since then, there have been other reports suggesting there are concerns how dangerous potentially is the situation? >> well, there is new information. japan's news agency reports radiation levels eight times normal are being monitored at a
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main gate near one of the country's nuclear plants. rattling in the earthquake, japan's nuclear power plant. an american working inside told his wife of falling lights and windows. >> everything was shaking. and the next thing they were told to get out, leave, evacuate. >> 3,000 people living close to the plant were also told to get out. >> so far they have not seen evidence of radiation leaks. but obviously you have to take all potential precautions. >> when the quake hit, a reactor automatically shut down. but power coming into the plant was also disrupted, shutting down the system that cools the reactor core, which is very hot, even when the plant isn't running. >> it's sort of like putting a pan in the oven. you can turn the oven off. if you go in and reach for the pan, you're going to burn yourself. the pan is still hot. >> the cooling system has redundancies. when the grid goes down, emergency generators are
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supposed to kick in, but those were flooded. right now batteries are running the system. if they run out and another source of power isn't restored, the core could overheat and possibly melt down. the plant is designed to contain the radioactivity, but the pressure could be extreme. >> the concern is that we could literally blow the roof off this reactor. in 1986 the reactor in russia ruptured sending a plume of radioactivity over europe. they say nothing like that is like likely. >> there hasn't been any field damage yet. they are cooling the core. >> we have this late update. the evacuation zone around the plant has been enlarged now to ten kilometers. u.s. government is monitoring the situation and has offered assistance, wolf. >> that's a very worrisome part
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of the story.
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we're following breaking news in "the situation room." the most powerful earthquake in japan's history followed by a killer tsunami. this is what it looked like when the 8.9 quake struck japan mid afternoon friday. shock, fear, horror in a country all too familiar with earthquakes. then a 30-foot high wall of water sweeping across highways,
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fields and towns. this tsunami reaching as far as 600 kilometers inland. hundreds of people dead. hundreds more missing. it's feared the death toll will reach more than a thousand. there have been dozens of aftershocks and two more strong earthquakes have struck. officials may release radioactive steam to try to reduce the pressure at the reactor. joining me now from the bureau in hong kong, we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world for our breaking news coverage of this earthquake catastrophe in japan. i'm wolf blitzer, and you're in "the situation room." >> as we watch the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, the devastating wall of water up to 30 feet high, erasing everything
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in its path, this is so, so heartbreaking. i fear that the devastation that we will see in the coming hours will be so much worse now that it's daylight after 8:00 a.m. in japan right now and the situation is only going to be underlined as going from bad to worse. >> that's right. it's 7:00 a.m. in hong kong. it's 8:00 a.m. there in japan. very soon we're going to get a much more clear picture of the devastation there. i want to describe to you the feeling here in the news room when we watched live those pictures, the aerial footage as that wave of water crash ed through the town just 100 kilometers in. the debris, the wall of water up to 30 meters high sweeping away cars, ships, homes, entire
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communities. utter devastation. it is a sea of liquid destruction. water, mud and debris. again, the damage from the tsunami may be far, far worse. lisa sylvester is looking into that. >> we're going to get to lisa shortly. she has a special report for us. let's show the viewers some of the pictures that are so heartbreaking and devastating. you see the cars. you see the devastation. you can only imagine the people who have been killed by the earthquake and tsunami. the people who have been injured and the hundreds if not thousands of people who are still missing. we've seen various reports. various reports of a lot of people who are missing. whole towns levelled. areas near the epicenter that
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have been destroyed. these are aerial shots. paula hancock is in japan. she's been watching the situation. it's now daylight in japan, paula, we can only appreciate the devastation more and more. what are you seeing and hearing there? >> reporter: as you say, it is 8:00 in the morning. the sun came up a couple of hours ago. it would have been the first chance to really see what kind of devastation there was. it's very difficult to tell you exactly how bad the devastation is. quite frankly we don't know yet. the prime minister is in the area. he's touring the area to find out how badly it's been hit. and also to the fukushima power plant to make sure that won't have radiation. he's going to be going to that particular area. but this will really be one of
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the first chances for many of the emergency crews to get on the ground for the first time. it's almost impossible to do that when it's pitch black, when you don't know what you're seeing on the ground. and certainly people would have had a horrendous night waiting for the emergency crews. and it's very difficult for them to get there. i am at one of the airports trying to fly out. it's very difficult. eight agencies trying to fly out. they can't get there as well. of course, the telecommunications in the area is just making a very difficult drive so much harder, wolf. >> it's probably only going to be possible with with helicopters to get anywhere close since the runways in the areas -- these airports in the north is where the devastation occurred. i'm sure the runways respect suitable for planes to land.
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so it's going to be an issue to get help. to bet water, food to the areas. paula standby. christi has a question for you as well. >> we're looking at flooding pictures. the new pictures, 8:00 a.m. local time there on sunday. the area most affected by the tsunami waves. can you tell us more about sendai, the area? we know because of its proximity to the epicenter it was very much affected, was it also affected baa of the low lying terrain? >> reporter: certainly that will play into it. it's also one of the highly populated areas of that particular prefecture. probably a million people live in sendai at one time. or not 20,000 to 30,000 if not more were evacuated. a the thing officials will be
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interested to see is whether or not they're telling people to evacuate immediately was heeded. if it was, many more lives will be saved. now the japanese are not strangers to earthquakes. they're not strangers to tsunami warnings. they take them very seriously. but the fact is there was only 15 minutes between the earthquake and the tsunami hitting. it was a case of how many people were able to get out of the area in time. as you say, it is a low lying flat area. we can see how quickly the water can move, just how devastating it was to carry in all that. >> there are a number of nuclear power plants in the affected area, state of emergency is in effect at one power plant. how will that complicate the relief effort? >> caller: well, certainly it's never going to help anything like that. i mean, this is going to be a
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consideration in the back of everybody's mind. the prime minister is touring that area at the moment. that is his first protocol. that is his first concern so make sure there isn't a radiation leak. to make sure there is no danger to people who are living in that neighborhood. now we know that at least 3,000 people, some are saying now 10,000 people could have been evacuated from around the power plants, at least 3,000, some saying 10,000 kilometers have been cleared to make sure that nobody is close by. because it is just an added problem certainly it's something the prime minister is taking seriously. it's his number one priority at this point. the emergency teams are looking to get aid on the ground. >> paula hancocks joining us live. >> we'll be going back to paula.
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kyung is in japan as well. the tsunami hit along japan's pacific coastline, causing massive amounts of damage. we're showing you the pictures. they're so devastating. lisa sylvester is going through the images. tell our viewers more of what has happened over the past 17, 18 hours in japan. >> you might not think of water as being such a powerful force, but when you look at the waves crashing into homes and buildingings, essentially sweeping everything in its path away, these are very powerful pictures that we want us all to take a look at now. >> unbelievable pictures of the raging water coming right at you. large houses and buildings pushed out of the way.
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waves crashing on top. >> a tsunami engulfing the whole port area. >> the force of the water toppled cars off bridges. watch as the water swiftly blankets this farmland. houses are submerged. you see someone hear waving a white cloth out of a window of an upper floor, hoping to be rescued. the japanese city of sendai bore the brunt. fires broke out. the airport is now submerged in water. those lucky enough made it to the roof where they now await. >> sendai city has a population of 1.03 million people. and also it's located in a very flat area. so it must have been shaken. i'm really kind of afraid of -- >> the 8.9 magnitude earthquake
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triggered the tsunami. witnesses describe watching the world roll beneath them. >> the whole ground was shaking so much. it was unreal. i can't describe it. it's just -- it was -- it felt like someone was just pulling you back and forth, side to side, as hard as they could. >> a tsunami occurs when an earthquake displaces rock at the bottom of the ocean, pushing rock up to the surface, forming a powerful wave. boats on the open water are less affected. but the waves move at supersonic speed, colliding with the coastline. >> there's devastation at the wave comes in, but as the wave then goes back out, there's very severe erosion and flow of water in a backwards direction. you get the water coming in with great velocity and force picking up all sorts of debris and washing it up shore and you get a lot of debris and material going in the opposite direction back out, which is just as destructive as the incoming wave. >> this tsunami showed its power
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as it moved across. wiping the land and everything on it clean. >> you know, wolf, also some of those waves got as high as 20 to 30 feet, we saw a number of people stranded on top of those buildings, and now the rescue effort is only just beginning, wolf. >> what amazing devastating pictures. thank you very much. for sharing that with our viewers here in the united states and around the world. christi is with us in hong kong. as we show our viewers live pictures for japan, i want our viewers to take a look at the destruction. it's now 8:12 a.m. saturday morning in japan right now. and you can see what has happened, these buildings, these structures, simply destroyed as a result of the earthquake followed by the tsunami. it's heartbreaking to think about the people who may have been inside those buildings. and you multiply this image that we're seeing by hundreds, if not
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thousands, you begin to appreciate the destruction of what has occurred. >> yes, we're getting a very, very clear picture of the devastation. as a result of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and the deadly tsunami that followed. let's remind the viewers that sendai, which is just 120 kilometers away from the epicenter of the quake was an agricultural community. if you look at the live pictures, the live aerial video coming in this morning, as we finally get a look at what the devastation looks like to us, it is water. you do not see fields. you do not see green areas. you see water, you see homes clearly destroyed. just a moment ago it looked like naked foundations where homes once stood. so just underscoring the power of the torrent. being able to throw aside everything in its way. homes, cars, ships, entire communities. this is really heartbreaking to look at.
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>> we're not going to this leave this story. because the images are only coming in. we're beginning to get a lot more images. look at this from nhk affiliate. you can see the water surrounding the structure miss the northern part of japan. we'll get back to that. this also by the way, christi, breaking news out of libya that we're following. ben wedeman is going to be following us in a moment. i want to update our viewers on that because it's important we not neglect what's going libya as well. the fallout in japan. much more breaking news in "the situation room" coming up after this. host: could switching to geico really save you
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live from cnn hong kong, we continue our coverage of the devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake in japan and the equally devastating, more devastating tsunami unleashed everwards. let's bring up for you the dramatic pictures of the tsunami. thetsunami there in sendai. pushing everything out of its path. cars, ships, homes, on top of
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the that bridge you can see cars and individuals trying to get away from the torrent there. when we were watching these pictures live in the newsroom yesterday, there was a hush here as we looked at the footage and tried to make sense of the utter devastation, human, physical, utderly devastating. the death toll still unclear. it is now 8:17 in the morning in japan. emergency crews only just now rushing to the scene to get a clearer sense of what is needed to help on the ground. let's go to wolf blitzer back in washington for breaking news in another part of the world. wolf? >> christi, standby for a moment. we're going back to japan. there's breaking news out of libya right now. apparently a huge setback for opposition forces to gadhafi. cnn's ben wedeman is on the phone for us from eastern libya. ben, update the viewers. >> yes, it's just after 1:00 a.m. in the morning.
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it afears to be a massive retreat going on by the rebel forces from their positions around ras lanuf. an hour ago people rr banging on the doors in the house we were staying in in brega saying the libyan army is on the way. the gadhafi forces are advancing eastward, and what i'm seeing now i'm at the main point and seeing car after car and pickup after pickup of anti-gadhafi fighters heading eastward. heading away from the front line where we saw in ras lanuf there was an intense bombardment by libyan armed forces on their positions. they've clearly been outgunned. they don't have the fire power to match it. now they are streaming away as far as they can from those
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apparently advancing libyan forces. wolf? >> a lot of u.s. officials have suggested to me their fear that with much of the world now focused in on this earthquake and tsunami in japan, ben, gadhafi is simply going to unleash his military, his troops, and they're going to launch a major offensive to crush the rebels while much of the world is looking at another part of the world. is that the fear that the opposition forces have right now as well? >> reporter: that's one of the many fears they have. the international community is completely distracted. and this was an ideal opportunity for libyan forces to move ahead, to press the vantage of their superior air power to move forward. and certainly that's what we saw today, wolf. as i said before, this
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unrelenting bombardment and we heard from saif al-islam gadhafi. i'm looking at cars passing through the check point. civilians and fighters. all of them fleeing away from what appears to be an advancing libyan army. >> ben, what about benghazi? that's been the second largest city of libya of the opposition forces where the opposition has established itself. where france has gone ahead and recognized this opposition as a legitimate government of libya. how secure, how safe are the opposition elements in benghazi? >> it's very difficult to say, actually. what has happened is many of the young men, and many of the people with military experience
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from benghazi streamed ahead to the west, thinking they were launching a campaign, an offensive to allow them to go through gadhafi's hometown, to tripoli, and now we see that they're all going in the opposite direction. so it's very difficult to really think with clarity that benghazi is well defended as most of the young men from the town are somewhere between the front lines and benghazi. it's a situation of chaos and confusion. they don't have communication. the cell phone system has been taken down. the only way i can talk to you right now is on the satellite telephone. what i'm seeing is a mad rush away from what appears to be the advancing libyan army.
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>> huge setback for the rebel forces. we'll check back with ben wedeman in libya. standby. we also want to stay on top of the disaster in the other part of the world, namely in japan where there was an 8.9 magnitude earthquake followed by a monster, monster tsunami. a lot of people are dead. many more are injured. many are still missing. the devastation only now becoming clear to the rest of the world. as daylight. approaching 8:30 a.m. saturday morning in tokyo. we'll continue the breaking news coverage from japan.
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>> welcome back. this is the continued live coverage of the massive earthquake and tsunami in japan. it's after 8:00 p.m. in the morning. we're getting a a picture of
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what it looks like. we're relying on pictures from affiliates to take a look at what it looks like the day after the massive, massive earthquake struck yesterday at 2:26 p.m. local time. scenes there on your screen, i believe from sendai, the community most affected by this earthquake, the community that was just 130 kilometers east of the epicenter. and also the community hit by the torrent of water that swept through this agricultural of some 1 million people. sweeping away cars, ships, homes, entire communities. wolf blitzer is also here. wolf. >> we're watching all of this unfold, christi. from our vantage point in "the situation room." and the feeds coming in from our affiliate in japan, nhk and others, this tsunami devastated earth in its wake. the devastation reminding a lot of us of what happened in
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indonesia, certainly katrina. we see people standing on rooftops waving to helicopters, begging for assistance as we watch this unfold. chad myers is watching it unfold as well. you have a special guest there who will the eling us what he experienced. >> that's right. they run oversee programs for american students. he joins us by phone on the line from tokyo. of course, we've been discussing the most affected area, sendai, but tokyo has been affected in a big way as well. a major metropolis. some 12 or 13 million people who live there. the still has been in paralysis since the quake struck yesterday. what is the situation this morning? >> caller: hello? >> hello, can you hear me? this is christi in hong kong.
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can you describe the situation in tokyo now? >> well, from our vantage point here things look reasonably calm. we're just at the border into the tokyo border. this particular area doesn't seem to have a lot of visible damage outside. there's some major stuff, and not too far way in the immediate ar area. >> you just mentioned shiba. a number of viewers and myself recall there was a fire at an oil facility in shiba. has that fire been extinguished by now? >> i have no idea. it's nothing i can see from here. >> okay, can you describe what you can see from your vantage point? >> and in particular, the issue of where people were able to stay last night. mass transit lines, which is the lifeline of tokyo had to shut down on the back of this
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earthqua earthquake. where were you, your colleagues and friends? where did you spend the night last night? >> i spent the night here at the office. most of the staff was able to get home. quite a few of the staff were off yesterday afternoon. we got lucky in that most of the students are not in the country at the moment because they're between semesters. we only have six students on the ground. we were able to get ahold of them immediately. we have an emergency cell phone procedure in place. we were able to contact it right away. everybody is safe and secure. most of the students are in their dorms. a couple of them were out and about. one was caught in transit flying into the country. everybody is safe in selter for the night. the trains are just starting to run again. here.
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>> thank you for joining us abroad so we hear your story from tokyo. let's go back to wolf. >> the tsunami that devastated the northern part of japan, it has still has an affect elsewhere around the world hard to believe. chad myers is joining us. there are still tsunami warnings out there. what's going on? >> that would be for chile, down here on the southern part of south america. >> there's north america right there here is hawaii and australia. an upheaval that pushed the water up. the bubble of water had to move somewhere and put it into motion. it continued to move away from japan. about 9:00 this morning with about a 9-foot wave.
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then we were watching and waiting for it to approach the west coast. crescent city, the marina devastated with an 8-foot wave. that's eight feet up and then eight feet down below that. they pulled the docks all through the marina. it was devastating there. we have to take you through what happened and why we didn't get a giant wave along the west coast is there again is the epicenter. the energy of the wave was pushed to the south of us. not just towards the u.s. the energy was actually pushed down towards chile, that's why there's a warning there now. it just took a long time for the wave to get there. the biggest wave midway and back out here. some of the purple area there where there weren't any islands could have had 30 or 40 foot waves. we know when the wave pushed
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back towards japan, there was a 30-foot wave there somewhere. it's called a subduction zone. the wave pushes down. this plate gets crusted together. and the two pieced of land are pushed together and one pops up. as it popped into the moisture here, it has to go somewhere and eventually pushes the water up, and the bubble of water is the tsunami. there was a lot of shabing and a lot of damage because of the shaking. but i would say 90% of the fatalities would be caused by that bubble or that wall of water that came onshore yesterday. wolf. >> chad, is there any way to compare this earthquake tsunami disaster to other incidents in the world? i know this is the worst earthquake in the history of
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japan since they started recording it. 8.9 magnitude. >> not that much difference really in the amount of energy released. this earthquake was 45 miles from the shore. it was the preparedness of the japanese people. and i know thousand people will killed in this. compared to 230,000 people killed in that tsunami in 2004. and all of the people that lived here, all this area, there are a million people in the city here, and they lived. they got out of the way. the water came in, but they were prepared for it. it's hard to imagine how with only 5 to 10 minutes notice, people were able to get out of the way of the tsunami. they did it. people were awake. they knew what to do. and they had a plan. and this country has a plan a
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plan for basically everything. and that tsunami, although it should have been a killer more than it did. it moved on shore and off shore. i know we'll find more tonight and the numbers will rise, but this was a miracle that more people did not perish with an 8.9. only five minutes away when it comes to a tsunami moving at 400 miles per hour. >> when you think about the the devastation in haiti with a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, and now an 8.9 magnitude earthquake in japan, as bad and horrendous as it is, and it is awful, you're saying it could have been so much worse if the japanese had not been prepared for these kind of crises. >> of course it's a devastating event. a 7.0 compared to an 8.9 would be almost 500 times more powerful. more movement of the land compared to the haiti earthquake. or the haiti buildings were not ready for the 7.0, where the
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japanese island and the way the people build their cities and how they make their plants, they were ready for this, even though i guess you can never be ready for a 9.0 earthquake. i want to go back to the live pictures we're seeing now. live pictures from affiliates nhk. you can see people on the roofs waving. they're desperately pleading for help. all the buildings surrounded by water. they can't get out of the buildings. there's no power. fortunately it's daylight. it's just after 8:30 a.m. saturday morning. these people are begging for help right now. our heart goes out to all of these people who are stranded and so desolate. >> this is a heart wrenching scene that we are witnessing live. live pictures of the tsunami
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survivors on the roofs of their buildings. they're using whatever white cloth they were able to find to signal for help. that helicopter was able to get the signal. right now it is 8:30 in the morning local time. help is not there in sendai yet. rescue crews are still on the way trying to get there. look at that live on your screen. a survivor. an earthquake survivor spelling out the words. did you see that? spelling out the world "help". issuing the world help to the entire world right now. rescue crews on their way to sendai. some 17 1/2 hours since the massive earthquake struck. here's the view from one cnn i-reporter who tells us about the moment when the earthquake struck. 2:22 p.m. local time yesterday.
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>> it is now some 18 hours since a magnitude 8.9 earthquake struck off the coast of japan. it unleashed massive tsunami waves. waves as tall as 30 feet high sweeping through sendai. first aerial footage of what sendai looks like this morning. it is now past 8:30 a.m. local time. rescue crews are on their way there. tease are taped pictures of the sue naum me arriving and sweeping through the land. right now you're looking at what we're seeing this morning. you can see quite clearly it is just a watering so sogged area. water was one threat. and fire it was another. a refinery fire one town sent
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thick black smoke into the sky. despite a series of aftershocks, one i-reporter captured the explosion on tape and sent us this video. there's a big fire right over there. oh, it just blew up. whoo! this is crazy! oh. let's go. i'm going back in! oh! look at it. i'm back. i left, and it blew up again. i don't know what's going on,
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but i'm staying now, so, whoo! whoo! i'm tired of running. i don't ever run. dang! i'm on the street. i feel like tom cruise. all right. coming to you live. it's bad, man. i can't believe the plant blew up. that's horrible. >> joining us now is the man who shot that video, august joins us live. can you walk us through the moments leading up to that explosion that you caught on
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tape? >> okay. i was in my house with my family. this is after the the sky is lit bright orange for a few seconds. the neighbors tell us a power plant blew up. i wanted to investigate. i was really curious. i grabbed my camera and on adrenaline just ran over. >> has the fire been put out? do you smell smoke in the air? >> no, the fire has been put out. it's contained now. >> okay. that's good news. can you walk us through the moment when the earthquake struck around 2:00 p.m. local time yesterday?
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where were you? what did you experience? >> i was babysitting. and the floor was shaking. it escalated rather quickly. eventually a bookshelf were the kids were sleeping started to tilt over. i froze for a moment. i wasn't sure what to do. i grabbed it and put it against the wall. it almost fell over and crushed me. i slept through the whole thing. i'm not sure how. but they were sleeping. but the house shook. it felt like the floor was supported by jell-o. the house was wobbly. i've never experienced anything like that before. >> how were you and other survivors coping with the shock of disaster?
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>> the japanese here are prepared for earthquakes. they seemed fine. random japanese people will come together and talk. help out each other. it was very awesome. it shows just how much the japanese care for their country. the japanese are doing fine. where i live, there is not that much damage decides the oil refiner refinery. >> okay, august, we'll live it at that. it seems we've lost our connection with you. thank you for sharing the story with us. i'm very relieved you and your host family are safe. that was august joining us live from ishihara. a stunning picture from an oil refinery just outside of tokyo. the focus, the acceepicenter is
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the center of japan. >> that's a big city, sendai, there's a million people there. it's not just a little town in northeastern japan. this is what it looked like in sendai. all of thetsunami hit and you can see the water moving relentlessly? these pictures are heartbreaking to see the destruction? you have to imagine people were in the homes and cars and working those fields. it happened in mid afternoon in tokyo friday afternoon. and now 17 or 18 hours later we're only beginning to appreciate what's going on. it's approaching 9:00 a.m. in japan right now. we have a lot more to cover. the president of the united states, president obama, he spoke out about this, promising the japanese people the u.s. would do whatever it could to help. we'll check in with the white house. we'll go back, more i-reports coming in. our correspondent in japan are getting more i-witness accounts of what's going on.
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aflac! oh, i've just got major medical... major medical. ...but it helps pay the doctors. pays the doctors, boyyy! [ quack ] oh yeah? what about your family? ♪ [ dad ] we added aflac, so we get cash! it's like our safety net... ♪ to help with the mortgage or whatever we need! so my family doesn't feel the pain too. ha! [ male announcer ] help protect your family at [ pigeons ] heyyy! hooo!!! >> 8.9 magnitude earthquake followed by a huge monster,
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killer tsunami. this has been a devastating day for the people of japan. the whole world is watching right now what's going on. we're only beginning to appreciate the destruction and the devastation as it's daylight. clearly moved by the tragedy as well, president obama today expressed his deep condolences to the people of japan, and he vowed that the united states will do all it can to help. our white house correspondent briana keiller is standing by with more. >> wolf, after answering a lot of questions about the kind of logistics obama discussed his emotional response to this disaster. >> your personal feeling -- >> reporter: it was a japanese reporter who asked president obama how the earthquake affects hem on a personal level. >> i'm heartbroken by this tragedy. i think when you see what's happening in japan, you are reminded that for all our
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differences, that ultimately humanity is one. >> reporter: president obama has travelled to japan twice during his presidency, and he said his response to the disaster is heightened by his connection to the people. >> i have such a close personal friendship to the japanese in part because i grew up in hawaii where i was very familiar with japanese culture that that just makes, you know, our concerns that much more acute. >> reporter: the president's chief of staff woke hem up at 4:00 a.m. to tell him about the quake in japan. at 9:30 he received an in-depth briefing in the oval office. by 10:15 he was on the phone with japanese prime minister kan offering assistance. obama pushed back his previously scheduled news conference by an hour and a half in response to the quake, and he ended his briefing on an optimistic note. >> i'm very confident, though, obviously, that the japanese people are so resourceful.
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japan is such a powerful economy and such an advanced economy technologically that japan will successfully rebuild. >> now, specifically, president obama said he expects japan will need help when it comes to clean-up, heavy machinery that will be needed to lift debris, and he also said that u.s. energy secretary chu is in touch with japanese officials so that they can provide any assistance need whenned it comes to potentially damaged nuclear power plants. now back to christy in hong kong. >> okay, brianna, thank you, indeed. u.s. president barack obama stands ready to help japan deal with the aftermath of the quake and it is mobilizing its forces. let's get straight to where cnn pentagon correspondent chris lawrence, who is in coronado, california. >> the u.s. military has shifted into a mode of full steam ahead when it comes to trying to help
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japan deal with this crisis. for example, the aircraft carrier uss ronald reagan was already heading to that area, but it was supposed to do a training mission in korea. it is now steaming as fast as possible to the waters off honchu, japan. the uss tore tooinga has landing craft on board. it's going korea and getting combat helicopters and getting back as soon as possible. the uss essex has about 2,000 marines leaving malaysia on its way as well. >> all right, chris lawrence joining us live from california. we will have much more ahead of the aftermath of that massive earthquake in japan. much more right after this. [ male announcer ] blue-blooded. cold. [ clock ticking ] happy anniversary. [ male announcer ] what happened to luxury? ♪ where did all the personality go?
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curtis: mmmm, not quite. someone's got you beat by 8 seconds. cko: still, i mean, at's... that's qui steve: well, what if i told you i only used one hand? anncr: geico. 15 nuco save yor insurance. dramatic stories coming out of japan from americans who have survived. >> reporter: the way jeannie tells it, her husband's escape from the fukushima nuclear plant in her words sounded like hell on earth. she tells us her 52-year-old husband, danny, reached her by a phone in louisiana and told her he narrowly missed the tsunami because he had difficulty getting out of the plant. >> it sounded like a tough spot banging on a big piece of glass. debris. he had his feet up. it pulled him down. the lights kept blacking out.
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he had to slow down, and wee have to pull a fuse out with him and that if he would have been a little faster, the water came. he said it was, like, 30 foot or more. it was just huge. he could see in the water homes and cars and just parts of businesses and whatever just going by, and that was his lucky moment that he had missed that. >> reporter: she says her husband told her he was able to get back to a hotel, but that, too, was badly damaged, and she said while they were talking, the ground kept shaking. >> you could hear the wind blowing and the waves were coming. we've got to go to higher ground. that's where they were headed. to go to higher ground and try to stay the night as much as they could in the van. >> reporter: elsewhere in fukushima misthises what it looked like when the quake hit. >> oh, my god. that is the biggest earthquake.
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it is still going. oh, my god. the building is going to fall. >> reporter: this video was shot by ryan mcdonald about 65 miles away from sendai, which is close to the quake's epicenter. mcdonald is an english teacher living in japan for nine years and is no stranger to earthquakes. >> i have just growed accustomed them because they happen so often, but this one didn't stop. it was sheer terror. i cannot even begin to imagine people closer to the epicenter and how bad they felt. >> because there are so many aftershocks, mcdonald told us he spent part of the night sleeping in his car. he went to check on a nearby evacuation center, but it was packed. for now he is bunking back in his apartment. >> this, this is a big bag of water, five pound bag of water. we ju lined p, and they gave it to us. i have no water service in my apartment. i can't flush the toilet. i can't drink anything. i have no gas. i do have

The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer
CNN March 11, 2011 5:00pm-6:59pm EST

News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting and online resources update international news. New.

TOPIC FREQUENCY Us 35, Japan 28, Tokyo 26, U.s. 19, Sendai 15, John 14, Nhk 12, Libya 6, United States 6, Gadhafi 5, Hong Kong 5, Haiti 5, Benghazi 5, Katrina 4, Geico 4, Ben 3, Wolf Blitzer 3, Ben Wedeman 3, Obama 3, Kyung 3
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